Flicking through to the news about the latest report from Hong Kong’s Director of Audit, I stumble across a little story about our city’s Financial Secretary John Tsang. The Hong Kong Dollar peg, he says, is not to blame for local inflation. Adopting a Singapore-style peg to a basket of currencies, he goes on, ‘would take away the territory’s independent monetary policy’. I am tempted to think the Standard has made a mistake, but a Bloomberg article backs it up.
Assuming they’re not both wrong, that leaves us with two possibilities: Tsang knows not even basic economics, or he is for some unfathomable reason trying to convince us to believe blatant falsehoods. The peg deprives Hong Kong of an independent monetary policy and ties us to a currency that is being debased, inevitably resulting in price inflation here (whatever it might do in the US, where debt deflation has been a real threat). The peg, under current circumstances, can only cause inflation here; we do not have an independent monetary policy. Tsang states the exact opposite of the truth.
There is a third explanation, and that is that in his garrulous and jovial spirit – augmented perhaps by a glass too many of a fine claret – words just poured forth unordered, at random, with no consciousness behind them. In fact, I hope that is the case.
Tracking down the audit results online, I then encounter a press release from the slightly sinister-sounding Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration (which if I recall correctly is a restructured version of something with a less creepy name). The government department is teaming up with the Hong Kong Evangelical Church School Services team to promote an Interschool Healthy Rap Contest and to remind youth ‘to stay away from unhealthy information’. The theme of the contest is ‘Healthy Information for a Healthy Mind’. Yes, this is what I’m thinking too.
We must be careful when approaching anything marked ‘evangelical’. It doesn’t always mean Biblical literalist lunatics who can’t understand science and are getting ready for the Rapture. Most sects calling themselves Evangelical Lutherans, for example, are what Muslims probably call Moderate Christians. And a glance at the HKECSS website suggests that the government’s partners are not from the Hong Kong tradition of Ark-building and trying to sneak Creationism into schools. Rather, they are in the far older, bigger and more noble Hong Kong tradition of hand-wringing, fretting, lying awake at night and pretty much wetting themselves all day about… young people and their possible lapse into unwholesomeness.
They also do a lot of good work with new immigrants from the Mainland and no doubt many other worthy causes. Which is more than we can say for the civil servants employed at vast expense with full pensions at the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration. What other things do they do with our tax dollars? Why, they ‘encourage the youth to develop healthy online habits’ through ‘the Healthy Mobile Phone/Tablet Apps Nomination Programme; the Meritorious Websites Contest; the Healthy Internet Video Contest [and] the Healthy Information Student Ambassadors Scheme’.
You can keep kids away from unhealthy information here. Paranoids worried about National Education may wonder if red-stained Beijing fingerprints are anywhere to be found on all this. I don’t think so. It’s just a bunch of space-wasting bureaucrats who absorb valuable oxygen and other resources thinking up almost surreally ridiculous ways to keep teens safe from real life, teaming up with a church charity that (I bet) knows a source of free-flowing financial assistance when it sees one.
And, eventually, I hack my way through to the Director of Audit. Sentence 2: “In 2012-13, the [Environmental Protection Department]’s estimated expenditure on managing air quality is $627 million.” Makes the Office for Film, Newspaper and Article Administration look like a bargain.
You need a holiday.
Doctor Dog always needs volunteers. What if THEY teamed up with the Evangelicals and you opened the door to find a Bible-thumping Golden Retriever salivating before you?
You see, when you think like that, life’s not all that bad!
remind youth ‘to stay away from unhealthy information’
Presumably, unhealthy information being facts. Perhaps these people should take their cue from the recent US election, in which an overwhelming number of Americans rejected the Republicans and their whorish pandering to Christian Right values.
An elementary understanding of HKese would show that sentences with “not” in them must be read at the second level, with a nudge and a wink to those in the know. It’s a rhetorical trick you youself used to sometimes employ (c. 2004-6), and has the advantage of avoiding being held accountable for anything whatsoever. It’s almost never a slip of the tongue, but invariably the beginning of a clever campaign to bamboozle us, but without revealing the nature of the middle game.
I didn’t realise the Dircetor of Audit was allowed to address substantive problems, as distinct from the wasting of our money or the fiddling of the books. How long till he/she is punished by being made to kneel on glass and/or investigate the Ombudsman or vice versa?
I’d like to enter the healthy ra-per team contest in order to further enhance my understanding of the subject but am afraid I’d fail the physical.
I wonder how long CY will put up with the vacuous John Tsang? The CE, for all his Machiavellian ways, does seem to me a guy that will want to do things unlike his predecessors. Tung, who pretty much gave up after 2003 (was it the bad back) and Sir Bow-Tie, whose ego invariably got in the way.
Not being schooled in finance, however I can grasp the basic financial dynamics this city faces. Overpaid bureaucrat, Tsang it seems does not.
It is not a source of pride that our cities real estate is the most expensive on the planet nor that we squabble over paying our elderly (5 years after they reach retirement age) a measly HK$2,200 as we continue to increase our rich / poor gap threatening our sovereign’s beloved “stability”.
Most business people can tell you that the things that worked 30 years ago (the divine peg) may not be suitable for 2012 Hong Kong. Engage in debate, consider, plan whatever. Isn’t it about time we had a Financial Secretary that did?
Reminiscent of Tipper Gore and the PMRC in the 80-90s in the US and those who want the Little House on the Prarie to be the most adult thing their children ever see. Band 5 kiddies are meanwhile tripping on ketamine and ex
experimenting with sex in some districts from 12 years old if the more lurid reports in the local press are to be believed. The OFNA may be staffed by relatively harmless cardigan wearing grey bureaucrats. But I guarantee you that the advisory bodies from which they seek a rubber stamp from their policies and the public submissions they receive during policy consultations will be overwhelmingly from god botherers.
John Tsang increasingly reminds me of Michael Suen: bonhomie and vacuousness in equal parts, all the more effectively thereby concealing his triumph of style over substance.
I suppose he’s afraid to delink the dollar because of the reaction from up there. If there’s a master plan, it has to involve the yuan — a currency HSBC always tell me doesn’t exist — but without gradual and orderly progress. And the convertibility of the yuan has been scheduled for in three years’ time as long as I can remember.
Officially there are no band 3 kids, only band 3 schools, although it’s mighty difficult to change bands.
Saw that Vagina Yip was criticizing CY again in the paper. What’s that all about ?
Does she want to get booted out of ExCo ?
Is she trying to commit political suicide ?
Or is she as dumb as she looks ugly ?